07/04/2016 Question Time


07/04/2016

David Dimbleby presents Question Time from Ilford. On the panel: Anna Soubry MP, Chris Bryant MP, UKIP's Douglas Carswell MP, economist Ruth Lea and novelist Irvine Welsh.


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Good evening. This is Question Time from Ilford, east London.

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Welcome to you, whether you are watching on television, listening on

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the radio. Welcome to our panel. Conservative business Mr, and --

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Anna Soubry. Labour's shadow Leader of the House of Commons, Chris

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Bryant. Ukip MP Douglas Carswell. Economist Ruth Lea, and novelist and

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author of Trainspotting, Irvine Welsh.

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Thank you very much. Before our first question, don't forget

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Facebook, Twitter and text. You can comment on, argue with them disagree

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with everything said tonight. Our first question which comes from

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Michael Bond, please. Is it fair for David Cameron to use taxpayers'

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money to support one side of the EU referendum debate? This is the

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announcement that a brochure will be given at a cost of just over ?9

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million to everybody in the country. Irvine Welsh. No, it is obviously

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not fair. It is very unfair and should not be allowed. The same kind

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of thing happened in the Scottish referendum. A whole lot of one-sided

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propaganda. The same thing is going to happen here. There is no way it

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can be justified. APPLAUSE

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Anna Soubry. It is absolutely the right thing to do. You expect from

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your Government that it should take a view, especially on the most

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important decision, I think, that will be taken for actually many

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generations, and that is whether we stay in or leave the European Union.

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You would expect your Prime Minister and your Government to have a view

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and we do. We believe we are stronger, safer and better off in

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the EU. I completely agree and I think that this booklet, a copy of

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which I happen to have, sets out the arguments and also begins to

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establish the facts. When I go out and talk to people, people say they

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want to know what the facts are, they want to know what the arguments

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are. I think it is the duty of Government to take a lead. Somebody

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has to take a lead in this. Be stronger in campaign is excellent

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and we are waiting for the opposition to step up to the plate,

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too, and make the case, because we have to make that argument. It is

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not just about my generation but about my children and my

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grandchildren's future. That point is well taken, but Michael Bond's

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question was whether it is right to use taxpayers' money to support only

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one side of the referendum debate. The electoral commission said today,

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we don't think the Government should have done it. They are entitled to

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their opinion. They are in charge, organising the referendum. They are

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entitled to their view but I think it is absolutely right that the

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Government has a view and is prepared to go out and make the

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case. You do not mind being rebuked by the electoral commission? We will

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have a friendly fallout. Douglas Carswell. It is absolutely not right

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that this money is spent, Michael. APPLAUSE

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We are told there is no money for junior doctors and GPs but the

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Government manages to find nearly ?10 million to tell us what to

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think. That is disgraceful. The Government promised during the

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passage of the legislation that the Government would not be a lead

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campaigner, those are the words of David Liddington on the floor of the

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House of Commons last year. It is awful that in the same month that

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the Government has found this money in my own constituency a hospital

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has been closed -- hospital ward has been closed to save money. And it is

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propaganda. It claims Britain has special status in the EU, which is

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false. It claims it will allow us to keep control of our borders, which

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is false. This is propaganda put out by Number Ten because they are

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panicking. They were expecting at this stage to be ten or 15 points

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ahead in the referendum. They are starting to panic and doing it at

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our expense. What do you mean by propaganda? Do you mean it is lies?

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Is that what you are saying? They imply in their pamphlet that in

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order to trade with the European Union we need to be in the European

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Union and that is demonstrably false. They say we will have special

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status in the EU as a result of David Cameron's new deal. Nowhere in

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the text of his so-called new Deal is the word special status used.

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This is Government propaganda at our expense and it is disgraceful.

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APPLAUSE Chris Bryant, is it legitimate for

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the Government to say they are backing Remain and are entitled to

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put this out? I am not David Cameron's biggest fan on this panel

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so it is not my job to defend him. And I can think of lots of other

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ways of spending ?9 million in my own constituency in the Rhondda, for

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instance. But I watch Question Time nearly every week, I and one of

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those sad people. Nothing sad about it at all! You get my point. Every

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time Europe is debated there will be a member of the audience who says,

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why when people just give us the facts. Yesterday afternoon I was

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doorknocking in the hail and sunshine, both at the same time, and

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a woman said to me, I just want to see the facts. One fact I want to

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put into this, which is that in actual fact, the Government will pay

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for both sides, because there is freepost provided to both be in and

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out campaign. I am passionate in favour of staying in and I'm sick

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and tired of the out campaign only obsessing about process points

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rather than getting into the substance of the matter. Because

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here is the thing, I start from the fundamental principle, I am a Labour

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person and I believe we achieve more by our common endeavour than we do

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on our own. That is the same in the European Union. The big issues that

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face us as a country, whether climate change, terrorism,

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international crime or drugs, whatever it is, we need to be

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permanently cooperating on a day-to-day basis with our closest

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allies in Europe. That is why I will fight all my life to stay in the

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European Union. APPLAUSE

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There are a number of hands up in the audience, but Ruth Lea, you can

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have your say. Is it fair for this money to have been used for this?

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Certainly not. It should not be taxpayers who pay for this. Ahead of

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a general election, would you think the Government of the day would use

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taxpayers up the money to put out propaganda for the election? Of

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course not. And I'm afraid it is propaganda. When you say these are

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the facts, they are not at all. I would like to read out what this is

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about. It says on the front, why the government believes voting to remain

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in the EU is the best decision for the UK. I have to say, I had a quick

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look on the website today and it was half truths and misleading

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information all the way through. For example, it was talking about a

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trade deal with the European Union. I want a trade deal with the

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European Union. I'm sure everybody does. Then we would say, I have to

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stick to all the rules. Do all the other countries have to stick to the

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rules? Does Mexico, does career, do any of these countries? They are not

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actually in Europe. But Norway, which as I understand it is the kind

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of arrangement you want for Britain... No, it is not. What do

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you want, for us to be like North Korea? Excuse me, that is a very

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silly thing to say because North Korea does not have a close

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relationship with anybody. APPLAUSE

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If you would stop interrupting me for half a second, I will tell you.

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Let's be honest, I want a trade agreement with the European Union,

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of course. And identity any reason why that shouldn't be negotiated. We

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are good trading partners now, we have a huge trade deficit with the

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European Union and I would have thought any German car exporter

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would want to continue with that. I would like to see a trade agreement,

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but when it comes to the rest of it, like security, would we be better

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off? You ask me what relationship I want and I have told you, OK. You

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haven't. I agree the government need to set out their position but I

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don't think they needed ?9 million in the 21st-century when they could

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have used online social media, and for those that don't have access,

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they could have put things in libraries and post offices. So the

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money was wasted but the idea isn't wrong. In the second row. I have not

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decided which way I am voting but from my government I would have

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expected a balanced view in terms of the pros and cons for either

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decision. APPLAUSE

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Anna Soubry, can you answer that. Why doesn't this have pros and cons?

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It is right that the Government has a view. We have a view on all things

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and a very strong view on this. Ruth says she wants a trade deal with

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Europe but cannot give us the detail. That is not the policy of

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everyone that wants to leave the EU. Douglas' leader does not want us to

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trade with that single market, 500 million people across the Channel.

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And it is really important that we understand what do they want, what

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will it look like, because Chris made a very good point. We disagree

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on almost everything, nearly everything. We agree on gay issues,

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for example. Did you just call me darling? I am so sorry. This is

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important because when we talk about the deal of countries like Norway,

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they pay the money, get the free movement of Labour and goods, they

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pay for all of that but they don't sit in Europe making decisions about

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the future of Europe and how it operates. Irvine Welsh, what is your

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view of this? In general terms, I have never got too excited about the

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referendum one way or the other. I think overwhelmingly people feel

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trapped into a global economic system with all these elite bodies,

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of which the EU is one, the IMF, the World Bank would be others. Their

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own governments would be others. To me, it seems to be whether citizens

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get shafted more easily within or outside the EU, it seems to be two

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elites arguing about the best way to impose neoliberalism and a debt

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economy upon the citizens of this country. Do you think it is right to

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offer the choice in a referendum, or are you saying it is a spurious

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choice? It is spurious because life goes on very much in the same way.

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We have seen how the global economy operates to the advantage of very

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few people and the disadvantage of many. But you can't defend the EU as

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an institution. You can't defend something that is undemocratic,

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something that is led by commissioners rather than... If you

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had a vote... Do you have a vote? I don't. I probably would not bother.

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If you forced me to vote, I would vote to leave, basically.

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It will be really interesting to see what the Leave side would do if they

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had the money. It seems another cheap joke that they can throw to

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say the Government's doing this, but what can they do, they are getting

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taxpayers money too, they should use it. They have got enough business

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interest that they could easily fund it. Douglas? One of the reasons why

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I think this leaflet is so unfair is precisely because on this one

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leaflet, the Government will spend ?9.3 million, that is more than the

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entire budget of the vote Leave campaign. That vote Leave budget has

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to be raised entirely through doe nations, it's not taxpayers money.

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By law, we are not allowed to spend more than ?7 million on that. Before

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the referendum's even formally begun, the other side's had more

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money on this one leaflet than we'll have through the entire campaign. I

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think that's unfair. APPLAUSE.

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The woman on the left? I wish they'd been in business, some of these

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people, because I traded with Europe right the way through my working

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life and we didn't have to have these trade agreements you are

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talking about. You talk nonsense. Frankly none of you have ever had a

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proper job which is a bit of a problem and if you had, you would

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understand what I'm saying to be true. If you work for Europe,

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they'll want to trade with you and they will not turn away good

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business. CHEERING AND APPLAUSE.

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So you're not concerned, or you are voting Brexit? I'm voting Brexit

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everything and I'm going to follow Liam Fox's advice and when they

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are... Has he had a proper job? He was a doctor at one point. I'm going

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to post the leaflet back to David Cameron in Number Ten so they can

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read them themselves. Exactly. We have all got the address.

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Absolutely. The man with spectacles in the third

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row from the back? It's really quite ironic, we usually expect our

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Governments, when they can't, to be able to step up, have a few

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difficult decisions to take and when it comes to this when they have take

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an view on what should happen on June 23rd, everybody goes off

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complaining and I find that very, very strange this. Debate I think is

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too narrow on the whole. Not just about trade and, by the way, I think

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we need to focus on geographics a little more. The reason why we trade

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so much with the European Union is because we are only 20 miles off

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Calais and we are joined by a tunnel and the reason why we have a trade

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deficit with the European Union at the moment is because we are very,

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very unproductive as an economy, we are not producing enough high wage,

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high skill jobs that we need to compete, but this is more about the

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economy. This is about how we work with others where a decision that's

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made over in Shanghai affects our daily lives here. I would prefer to

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have some influence and a decision, a choice, in how that is arranged,

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rather than isolate myself, insulate myself, invite these problems along

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so an extent it will cost far more in the long run to deal with them

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until we have finally got the message? You? Douglas Carswell, my

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hero! A man speaks up. I'll tell you what, that ?9.3 million should not

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be used as a piece of Government propaganda, it should be invested

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back into the British people. You know, I read a recent statistic,

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9,000 veterans, what are we doing about them? That ?9.3 million should

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be going to them. The junior doctors, the NHS, our own people.

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Not being invested into a piece of propaganda.

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APPLAUSE. All right. A man who speaks up in

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the audience too, thank you very much. I think at this stage, we want

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to take a brief... I know Douglas is very worried there won't be an even

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playing field. Frankly with the Sun, The Telegraph, the Times and the

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Mail, daily pumping out fibs and lies about the European Union, it's

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time we had proper information. I would point out that the owners of

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the newspapers are not resident in the UK paying tax.

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Are you sure about that, because I think they could sue you? Where does

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the owner live... Why did I say that? Where does Rupert Murdoch

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live? I don't know, darling. America. Fair enough. I'm not going

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to challenge you ever again! To blame newspapers for holding points

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of view with which Chris disagrees, surely the fact that the newspapers

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have those views reflects what the readers think and want. No. No. You

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know perfectly well it reflects the owners, the proprietor's views, not

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the views of the British people. APPLAUSE

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Ruth Lea? That doesn't make sense. I was going to comment on something

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Anna was saying, she was talking about Norway and you were talking

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about Switzerland. When we leave, as I hope we will leave, the British

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Government will negotiate a British settlement for us. It won't be

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Norwegian or Swiss, but British. Let's not beat around the bush, we

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have a lot of leverage in the negotiations. The idea that we are

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going to be some pathetic supplement is absolutely absurd. They need us

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and we need them and we want to cooperate. My goodness me, we don't

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need to be in the European Union to be able to do that.

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APPLAUSE. Ten hands up at the moment, I'll take one point from you

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because you've got the tallest hand, yes? Oh, thank you.

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If... No, no, no, you haven't got the tallest hand, you have. Be brief

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if you probably would. I believe we do want to say the same thing. ?9.3

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million on a Government pamphlet, not sure of the contents because I

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believe it's being distributed next week, to put it in context, this

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country's contributing roughly ?350 million a week to the European Union

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and what are we getting in return? I voted in the 1975 referendum. I've

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been pro-European for many years. But in recent years, my mind has

:20:15.:20:18.

changed. I'm going to vote to leave the EU.

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OK. All right. APPLAUSE.

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We are going to go on. Thank you very much. The only thing I would

:20:27.:20:30.

say, the Institute for Fiscal Studies who we all reveer, says the

:20:31.:20:35.

actual figure is not ?350 million, but ?154 million when you deduct the

:20:36.:20:40.

benefit that comes. I say that in a disinterested way just to correct

:20:41.:20:43.

the point. But we need to move on to another question because we have a

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lot more questions to Comptonite and we have already had 20 minutes. If

:20:47.:20:52.

you want to come and take part in this chaos of Question Time during

:20:53.:20:56.

this run-up to the EU, we are going to be in Doncaster next week and we

:20:57.:21:00.

are in Exeter the week after that. So you can apply via the

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A question from Michael Manuel, please? Can we ever have a just and

:21:08.:21:18.

fair society when it seems that only the little people pay their fair

:21:19.:21:23.

share of taxes? APPLAUSE.

:21:24.:21:32.

So, Panama raises its head. Anna Soubry? Well, there's a statistic

:21:33.:21:38.

which I thought was very interesting. I think it's very

:21:39.:21:43.

important as well. The top 1%, the most wealthy people in our nation,

:21:44.:21:50.

pay 28% of all the taxes that we collect. So whilst I agree with you

:21:51.:21:57.

that obviously there are devices and schemes which actually we have

:21:58.:22:01.

cracked down on, we introduced 40 measures in the last Parliament to

:22:02.:22:05.

close off these loopholes, but it often looks like the rich can escape

:22:06.:22:17.

from paying taxation, taxation. We have got another 25 measures I

:22:18.:22:20.

believe it is for the next Parliament. We are doing all the

:22:21.:22:25.

things we should be doing. The most important thing is that everybody

:22:26.:22:30.

should pay their tax. You are absolutely right, it doesn't matter

:22:31.:22:32.

who they are, everybody should do it. No offshore tax havens, is your

:22:33.:22:39.

view? I think if you live in this country and you earn income and you

:22:40.:22:44.

have money that you accrue, you should pay your taxes. Now, where

:22:45.:22:49.

you choose to invest your money is a matter for you, but when you are

:22:50.:22:52.

earning income and if you sell assets and therefore you have

:22:53.:22:56.

capital gains tax by way of example to pay, those are the things that

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you should do. That's why, as I say, we have introduced these measures,

:23:03.:23:05.

we are raising billions of pounds, because we are closing off all the

:23:06.:23:10.

Liverpool hopes that have frankly existed for previous years under

:23:11.:23:13.

grieve previous Governments, we are doing that and that is the right

:23:14.:23:18.

thing to do. Chris Bryant? What a load of nonsense that was. I mean

:23:19.:23:20.

really. APPLAUSE. It's absolutely clear,

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there's one rule for the very, very rich and another rule for the rest

:23:26.:23:29.

of us. We all have to pay our tax through PAYE. Some people get to pay

:23:30.:23:33.

expensive people to find a way around it. We don't know. Anna's

:23:34.:23:38.

completely wrong, we don't actually know how much people are paying, the

:23:39.:23:43.

very wealthy pay on their tax because 8% of the world's wealth is

:23:44.:23:49.

hidden in offshore tax havens. So why didn't you change that? We

:23:50.:24:00.

did... So you undid it... The FT did a close survey of the tax avoidance

:24:01.:24:05.

measures uncovered by Blair, Brown and recent Governments, they found

:24:06.:24:08.

that the Blair Brown Governments done four times as much, they

:24:09.:24:13.

brought in ?100 billion of unpaid tax thus far and in particular what

:24:14.:24:17.

really disturbs me is first of all, that we introduce add very effective

:24:18.:24:22.

measure, the disclosure of tax avoidance schemes measure. We

:24:23.:24:27.

strengthened it at every point since 2004 when we introduced it and the

:24:28.:24:31.

coalition Government in 2010 started watering it down. David Cameron

:24:32.:24:38.

lobbied at the European Union to say that their personal private trusts

:24:39.:24:42.

shouldn't be open to the same transparency rules as for

:24:43.:24:46.

corporations. I disagree with that. We should all be in this together.

:24:47.:24:49.

Chris, under Labour... Come back on this? Under Labour,

:24:50.:24:56.

rich people didn't pay stamp duty. Under Labour, millionaires and

:24:57.:25:00.

billionaires paid less tax than their cleaners were paying. Under

:25:01.:25:07.

previous Labour Governments, we had loophole after loophole propped up

:25:08.:25:10.

by your party that failed to do these things. That's absolutely what

:25:11.:25:15.

we stopped doing, 40 measures raising ?2 billion in extra taxes.

:25:16.:25:20.

We are the ones who cleared up your mess. You said you were going to do

:25:21.:25:25.

that. Now it's clear we are not going to get a quarter of what you

:25:26.:25:29.

said. You said you got rid of the tax havens in the overseas

:25:30.:25:33.

territories. When I was minister, I refused to allow them to continue

:25:34.:25:37.

their tax haven status if they wanted to borrow more money which is

:25:38.:25:40.

what they wanted to do. The moment we lost power in 2010, your

:25:41.:25:45.

Government came in and said, no, you can borrow as much as you want and

:25:46.:25:49.

remain as a tax haven. Do you want to have direct rule in these places,

:25:50.:25:52.

the Virgin Islands, go to war and take them back? I can think of, you

:25:53.:26:00.

know, I can imagine Pitcairn island would love to have Boris as its

:26:01.:26:05.

Governor Nomplt we should consider very, very closely what we do in

:26:06.:26:10.

relation to our overseas territories. We still have a

:26:11.:26:18.

contingent liability where they are trading on the same name. We

:26:19.:26:22.

shouldn't be allowed to continue without transparency. Bermuda, the

:26:23.:26:28.

Turks and chaos, Pitcairn, they are all doing it. I was the last

:26:29.:26:35.

minister in charge who said that to impose direct rule in Turks and

:26:36.:26:40.

Caicos because of the massive corruption there in 2009. The woman

:26:41.:26:45.

second row from the back? Will the Government be challenging the names

:26:46.:26:50.

with the same vigilance as it does benefit claims? Ruth Lea? Benefit

:26:51.:26:58.

claimants get looked at very carefully, will the rich be looked

:26:59.:27:06.

at as carefully? When Anna said the top 1% of taxpayers pay a high

:27:07.:27:10.

proportion of the tax bill, she's right, they are taxpayers. The

:27:11.:27:17.

trouble is that such a lot of them squirrel away their dividends in the

:27:18.:27:20.

Chris havens Chris was talking about. I take your point, I'm not

:27:21.:27:28.

disagreeing with that. I think that you were referring to the gentleman

:27:29.:27:32.

with the original question, thinking about the Panama papers and this

:27:33.:27:42.

curious legal firm called MossackFonseca or whatever it's

:27:43.:27:45.

called, that was dealing with all these people who're obviously

:27:46.:27:50.

dealing with the tax havens, many of which are overseas territories, I

:27:51.:27:55.

think half the dealings that they were dealing with were actually

:27:56.:27:58.

British Virgin Islands which is overseas. But do you think it's

:27:59.:28:01.

right this should be allowed to happen? No. People perfectly legally

:28:02.:28:09.

do that. President Obama said an interesting thing, saying it's legal

:28:10.:28:12.

what's been going on, but that's the problem. I think the problem is

:28:13.:28:16.

because they are secret and there is a lack of transparency it covers the

:28:17.:28:21.

legal which is avoidance or even aggressive tax avoidance which is

:28:22.:28:26.

strictly legal. There is money-laundering, dodging sanctions

:28:27.:28:29.

and the like. This comes back to the point Chris is making, you need

:28:30.:28:34.

absolute transparency in these particular tax havens and then at

:28:35.:28:38.

least you know whether they are legal or whether they are illegal

:28:39.:28:40.

transactions. We need specific new policies to end

:28:41.:29:00.

the division that has come about in our society. The tax returns we all

:29:01.:29:07.

make should be made public, so I can see your tax return, Mr Dimbleby,

:29:08.:29:14.

and you can see mine. This could obtain throughout the whole country

:29:15.:29:17.

and we could look carefully at those who are not paying what appears to

:29:18.:29:23.

be the right tax. It may well be then that we can get in touch with

:29:24.:29:26.

the tax office and say, would you be kind enough to investigate this

:29:27.:29:31.

person because it appears they are paying too little tax. Irvine Welsh,

:29:32.:29:39.

would you like to see that? I think it is inevitable and probably the

:29:40.:29:42.

tip of the iceberg everything that has happened in the last 15 years.

:29:43.:29:51.

It is such a strange thing, when you look at what has actually happened

:29:52.:29:55.

and the response of people involved. The great tragedy for them is that

:29:56.:29:59.

they have been caught. This is the whole problem as far as they are

:30:00.:30:06.

concerned. You can bet every resource will be going into making

:30:07.:30:09.

sure the public do not get that kind of information again that they got

:30:10.:30:15.

in the Panama leaks. This is probably the last we will hear of

:30:16.:30:18.

this for a while but you can bet it will continue to keep going on. Have

:30:19.:30:22.

you ever been tempted to put your money in the Virgin Islands from

:30:23.:30:28.

Chicago? The Virgin Islands is too far away so I would probably go for

:30:29.:30:34.

the Cayman Islands. You have been tempted that way? Not really, no.

:30:35.:30:40.

When I lived in Dublin, writers were exempt from tax. The thing is, it is

:30:41.:30:48.

not about individuals. If the system is set up for greed, encouraging

:30:49.:30:54.

people to act on greedy impulses, human beings are complex, not only

:30:55.:30:59.

about greed, but all sorts of emotions, but if an economic system

:31:00.:31:02.

is setup to be based around greed and avarice, you get these outcomes.

:31:03.:31:08.

Human beings are violent but we do not want war of the time to satisfy

:31:09.:31:14.

that. We have to have some kind of balance, some kind of controls on

:31:15.:31:19.

people's base instincts. Right now we don't have that in the global

:31:20.:31:25.

economic system. Is that why you lived in Dublin, so you couldn't pay

:31:26.:31:32.

taxes? No, I live there because my wife was there. Many writers did

:31:33.:31:37.

move there because it had a special tax regime. I remember saying to

:31:38.:31:42.

Roddy Doyle in a pub, how can you live here and not pay tax? He is

:31:43.:31:49.

born and bred there. The guy who is pulling your pint of Guinness is

:31:50.:31:56.

paying an exorbitant amount. And there I was, when I moved to Dublin.

:31:57.:32:03.

I thought, every other writer is not paying tax, so I should do the same

:32:04.:32:10.

thing. When the system is rigged like that, you are in the position

:32:11.:32:14.

that you are a mug if you don't take advantage. He just laughed in my

:32:15.:32:19.

face and said, now you are here, you will take advantage. He was right

:32:20.:32:25.

because that is the way it operates, but the system should not operate

:32:26.:32:28.

like that, being about somebody deciding who has money deciding if

:32:29.:32:33.

they want to take part in it or not. Somebody deciding to sell their

:32:34.:32:37.

conscience by giving to charity. It is not enough. People should be

:32:38.:32:43.

compelled to pay the correct amount of tax. People are right to feel a

:32:44.:32:50.

sense of anger. The lady at the back said with the government go after

:32:51.:32:53.

people not paying tax the same way as someone fiddling benefit. I was

:32:54.:32:58.

hoping a woman in my constituency today who is being chased by HMRC

:32:59.:33:03.

and bailiffs for their mistake in overpaying her child tax credit. I

:33:04.:33:09.

hope they go after some of those who have not paid their full share of

:33:10.:33:13.

tax in Panama and the British Virgin Islands. The question is what to do

:33:14.:33:17.

about it. Unless we colonise every small island on the planet and

:33:18.:33:20.

impose world governance, we are going to have to recognise that we

:33:21.:33:27.

cannot stamp out tax havens. How do we minimise the damage and minimise

:33:28.:33:32.

the unjust system? First, pushed tax havens to disclose. In fairness to

:33:33.:33:36.

David Gauke, and I don't want to trigger the squabble again, but the

:33:37.:33:41.

current Treasury minister has done good staff in terms of pushing some

:33:42.:33:46.

of these havens. British Virgin Islands now has to report to 29

:33:47.:33:49.

different tax authorities which it did not have to do before. Second,

:33:50.:33:54.

we have to remove the incentive to use a tax haven. We have had four

:33:55.:34:03.

budgets in the past two years. Every time, George Osborne announces his

:34:04.:34:07.

wealthy is going to try and grab. It could be peoples pension pots. It

:34:08.:34:13.

Pastis at one stage. If we had less arbitrary tax and lower tax there

:34:14.:34:20.

would be this incentive. If there is an opportunity of paying no tax,

:34:21.:34:23.

however low the tax is, people will go for that. If you remove the

:34:24.:34:30.

incentive... The incentive is 10% tax, 20%? If you push tax

:34:31.:34:38.

jurisdictions to disclose, I don't think people would be willing to

:34:39.:34:49.

take that risk. You, sir. We used to have an act in 1947 controlling the

:34:50.:34:52.

movement of money. Why don't we bring that back again? Why was it

:34:53.:35:02.

repealed? The Thatcher government repealed it in 1979. Along with a

:35:03.:35:07.

series of other things which deregulated, one of the things that

:35:08.:35:10.

Thatcher bequests to the modern era, they deregulated so much this was an

:35:11.:35:18.

inevitable result. There is an increasing perception that there is

:35:19.:35:21.

a ruling class that is beyond the law. Because they are the ruling

:35:22.:35:24.

class they can preserve things for themselves. I am concerned this

:35:25.:35:30.

country is becoming less democratic, because those in the corridors of

:35:31.:35:34.

power can manage things to ensure the perpetuation. As I said, I don't

:35:35.:35:43.

think we disagree that in the last government we collected an

:35:44.:35:45.

additional ?2 billion of money because we tied up 40 of these loops

:35:46.:35:52.

that enabled people who should have been paying tax not to pay. We have

:35:53.:35:57.

another 25 measures. If you speak to those who have used devices to avoid

:35:58.:36:03.

paying tax, they will tell you how the taxman is now coming after them.

:36:04.:36:07.

We have seen in the last five years ?2 billion of extra money coming in

:36:08.:36:13.

from people who have avoided it. We have a general GT that means these

:36:14.:36:18.

sort of avoidance schemes are no longer allowable. -- a general duty.

:36:19.:36:22.

I don't want to deal with this squabbling but it has to be said

:36:23.:36:27.

that it is a fact that under the last Labour government there were

:36:28.:36:30.

all sorts of schemes that were absolutely promoted in order for

:36:31.:36:37.

people to defer taxation and not pay at the right time. That is a fact.

:36:38.:36:41.

The truth is that the moment you close one loophole or introduce a

:36:42.:36:47.

tax, someone will employ a lawyer somewhere to find a way round it.

:36:48.:36:50.

The proof is that all political parties should get together and

:36:51.:36:57.

agree that we want to put an end to this. David Cameron's example this

:36:58.:36:59.

week has not been brilliant on transparency. It is not just about

:37:00.:37:05.

the tax arrangements but also about knowing who owns what. It is

:37:06.:37:12.

interesting how much the United, the president of the United Arab

:37:13.:37:17.

Emirates opens in London. We only know that because of this

:37:18.:37:21.

revelation. A lot of people in other countries of the world are furious

:37:22.:37:24.

with their leaders who have been stealing money from them, taking it

:37:25.:37:29.

elsewhere, and all political parties in this country should be making

:37:30.:37:34.

sure our embassies overseas are the best example.

:37:35.:37:42.

Coming back to the Prime Minister, do you think he has now explained

:37:43.:37:48.

sufficiently for your purposes his tax affairs, to satisfy you that

:37:49.:37:52.

there has been no wrongdoing and no tax avoidance on his part? It has

:37:53.:37:59.

been classic Cameron. It has had to be dragged out of him by wild

:38:00.:38:04.

horses. Remember when he said he had never gone riding with Rebekah

:38:05.:38:07.

Brooks, and then, maybe he had done but he could not remember if she was

:38:08.:38:11.

there, and in the end he could remember and even remembered the

:38:12.:38:14.

name of the horse. That is exactly what we had this week. Of course I

:38:15.:38:19.

am not satisfied and I don't suppose a single person in the country is

:38:20.:38:21.

satisfied. APPLAUSE

:38:22.:38:24.

At the beginning of the week he said was a personal matter, then he said

:38:25.:38:30.

he was not benefiting at all, then he said he and his family were not

:38:31.:38:33.

benefiting, and then he said they would not benefiting future, but

:38:34.:38:38.

forgot to mention that they had been benefiting in the past.

:38:39.:38:38.

APPLAUSE Why didn't he own up at the

:38:39.:38:45.

beginning if he hasn't done anything wrong? Can we just establish

:38:46.:38:52.

something. The Blair more holdings, and forgive me, David, I think you

:38:53.:38:56.

were putting that into the same category as tax avoidance schemes

:38:57.:39:00.

and offshore dealings. That was actually an investment fast,

:39:01.:39:04.

perfectly legitimate, Robert Peston and others have written about the

:39:05.:39:08.

legitimacy of it. In 2006 it actually produced a brochure so

:39:09.:39:18.

investors could invest in it. You paid tax and capital gains tax. That

:39:19.:39:24.

is exactly what David Cameron did. In 2010, when he became Prime

:39:25.:39:27.

Minister, you got rid of his holdings in it. He paid the capital

:39:28.:39:33.

gains tax on that. He has not done anything wrong. Hang on, you are

:39:34.:39:37.

interrupting. It is very important, if you are talking about tax

:39:38.:39:43.

avoidance. We can have a debate about that, but this is not a tax

:39:44.:39:47.

avoidance scheme. It is an investment trust, open, honest and

:39:48.:39:52.

write unlawful. There was a big distinction between that and tax

:39:53.:40:00.

avoidance. He did it just before the election. I will tell you why. This

:40:01.:40:09.

was not someone who did something wrong and was getting rid of it

:40:10.:40:14.

because there was nothing illegal, morally or legally about investing

:40:15.:40:18.

in this trust. So why didn't he say so on Monday. He got rid of

:40:19.:40:23.

everything when he became Prime Minister and now he is saying he

:40:24.:40:26.

will publish his tax return and other party leaders should do the

:40:27.:40:31.

same. Do you want to answer the point that it took him a week to get

:40:32.:40:35.

to the point of saying in the future his family would not benefit, so in

:40:36.:40:39.

the past maybe they had by implication. To be honest,

:40:40.:40:44.

understandably the spotlight was put on his late father. He was dragged

:40:45.:40:50.

into it and there were slurs made against him. I have to say, if it

:40:51.:40:54.

had been my father I think I would have called back and frankly not

:40:55.:40:59.

wanted to talk about any of it because I would have found it

:41:00.:41:07.

hurtful. I had no interest in Ed Miliband's father either. I was much

:41:08.:41:10.

more interested in Ed Miliband and I am more interested in David and who

:41:11.:41:15.

they are and what they stand for today, not about their parents. I

:41:16.:41:24.

promised I would union. One of the reasons the little man pays is that

:41:25.:41:28.

David Cameron was asked in April 2012 to publish his tax returns and

:41:29.:41:33.

he still hasn't. We have a Chancellor who can stand proudly. We

:41:34.:41:37.

have Google who pay more tax in France, get more money in Britain.

:41:38.:41:43.

It doesn't add up. We have disabled people losing ?30 a week. If

:41:44.:41:47.

anything, it is because of the current Government. Until he can

:41:48.:41:50.

publish a Budget which holds everyone, not just the top 10%,

:41:51.:41:54.

nothing will change nothing will work. We only have a quarter of an

:41:55.:42:04.

hour left and I want to go on to this next topic, a question from

:42:05.:42:10.

Caroline Jones. Hello. The microphone is over your head. Should

:42:11.:42:14.

the Government nationalise the British steel industry? Chris

:42:15.:42:26.

Bryant. Not necessarily as its first step, but it might need to keep that

:42:27.:42:32.

as a possibility on the table. I represent a seat in south Wales

:42:33.:42:36.

which used to have a single industry that dominated. It was cold in my

:42:37.:42:43.

case. I drive past Port Talbot frequently and I have constituents

:42:44.:42:50.

who work in the still works there. -- the steelworks. For those of you

:42:51.:42:53.

who think we should not bail out steel, think hard about this. There

:42:54.:42:58.

are presently people paying taxes who would then be in receipt of

:42:59.:43:04.

benefits. If we can afford to bail out the banks, we can afford to bail

:43:05.:43:06.

out steel. APPLAUSE

:43:07.:43:12.

I don't want us to suddenly go back to the 1940s and say we will

:43:13.:43:18.

nationalise steel and keep it forever in state control. Government

:43:19.:43:23.

ministers are not particularly good at running businesses. But I think

:43:24.:43:28.

it was wrong of the Government to take this off the table. I also

:43:29.:43:32.

think, to be honest, that Sajid Javid, when he seems to suggest this

:43:33.:43:38.

came as a surprise to him, if he had sat in Prime Minister's Questions

:43:39.:43:41.

the week before when Stephen Kinnock, who has done a very good

:43:42.:43:45.

job in representing his constituents, said to the Prime

:43:46.:43:50.

Minister, next week there will be a decision in Mumbai where they will

:43:51.:43:52.

decide on the future of the steelworks in my constituency, he

:43:53.:43:58.

could have heard that and then he might have gone to Mumbai instead of

:43:59.:43:59.

Australia. Back to Caroline Jones' question.

:44:00.:44:07.

Should the Government nationalise it. You seemed to say yes, possibly?

:44:08.:44:11.

I don't think we should take it off the table which is what the

:44:12.:44:15.

Government are saying. We need to do a proper due diligence, get all the

:44:16.:44:18.

facts and figures in relation to the business together. Secondly, we

:44:19.:44:23.

should stop bowing to China. I'm sick and tired of all this business

:44:24.:44:28.

trying to get market status economy for China when they have been

:44:29.:44:31.

dumping steel at way less than it costs to produce and taking people

:44:32.:44:35.

out of jobs in this country and incidentally that's another reason

:44:36.:44:38.

for me why we should stay in the EU because I think we only stand up to

:44:39.:44:42.

China if we are alongside our colleagues in the European Union. I

:44:43.:44:45.

think the Government will have to put some money on the table. I'm

:44:46.:44:49.

very proud of Carwyn Jones, the leader in the Welsh Assembly,

:44:50.:44:53.

because he's already put ?60 million on the table from the Welsh

:44:54.:44:56.

Assembly. That's a large amount of money. What do you say to what Anna

:44:57.:45:02.

Soubry sitting on my right said, which is that nationalisation is an

:45:03.:45:07.

option. She said, I make clear we should look at all options. I like a

:45:08.:45:11.

lot of the things Anna says on this subject. The trouble is, actually

:45:12.:45:15.

the implementation of them. I don't understand why the Government was

:45:16.:45:20.

campaigning against tariffs in the European Union that other

:45:21.:45:23.

countries... That's not true. That's not true. I don't know why on 29th

:45:24.:45:27.

February Anna voted against a motion in the House of Commons and Douglas

:45:28.:45:31.

didn't even bother to turn up. You lose people by this kind of thing.

:45:32.:45:34.

Let's just deal with the question of steel and the future of the steel

:45:35.:45:39.

industry. Because we have made it very, very clear that steel is a

:45:40.:45:43.

vital industry and we'll not leave any stone unturned in our absolute

:45:44.:45:46.

determination to do everything we can, not just to keep rolling it,

:45:47.:45:50.

milling it and producing it but actually making steel and notably

:45:51.:45:54.

both at Scunthorpe and Port Talbot. I'll put my hands up and say that

:45:55.:45:58.

there's a lot of stuff that perhaps we haven't talked about that we

:45:59.:46:01.

should talk about and I can't talk about everything, but I want to make

:46:02.:46:05.

some points absolutely clear. First of all, we've been looking - I mean

:46:06.:46:11.

a proper, hard, long look since October - led by Oliver Letwin, a

:46:12.:46:15.

group of ministers including myself, at how we can first of all secure

:46:16.:46:20.

the making of steel at Scunthorpe and then in more recent times long

:46:21.:46:24.

before last week, how we can make sure we continue to make steel blast

:46:25.:46:31.

steel in Port Talbot. That work's been going on. I can't talk about

:46:32.:46:35.

the detail of it because as you will understand, a lot of this is

:46:36.:46:38.

incredibly commercially sensitive. So what happened back in September

:46:39.:46:42.

was that we had a steel summit and the industry and the unions - and I

:46:43.:46:46.

want to say something about the Trade Unions that represent

:46:47.:46:49.

steelworkers - brilliant, skilled remarkable men as they usually are

:46:50.:46:53.

and a few women as well. The Trade Unions throughout all of this have

:46:54.:46:58.

been outstanding and I want to pay tribute in particular to the

:46:59.:47:01.

communities Trade Union and their remarkable leader. So we've all

:47:02.:47:05.

worked together. The industry quite rightly said, we've got five asks

:47:06.:47:08.

because we want a level playing field, some of which Chris has

:47:09.:47:11.

identified, like tariffs, for example. We've delivered on four of

:47:12.:47:16.

the five asks. The only thing we've not delivered on is sorting out

:47:17.:47:21.

rates. Hopefully we might get there. When it comes to tariffs, I can tell

:47:22.:47:25.

you I was the minister who, in the face of the advice from my officials

:47:26.:47:29.

that we should vote against them, I said no, we will vote in favour of

:47:30.:47:36.

tariffs on steel products, wire and then rebar and a number of other

:47:37.:47:39.

products we have done in conjunction with the European Union. I agree

:47:40.:47:42.

with Chris, we are better off in the EU. Including tariffs on Chinese

:47:43.:47:48.

steel? Well, yes. It was opposed? No, this is not true! We voted in

:47:49.:47:54.

favour. In fact, such was the shock in the EU commissioners that were

:47:55.:47:58.

sitting there, they went back to the UK delegation to check the vote so

:47:59.:48:02.

we have done it twice, we did it in July and in November. As a result of

:48:03.:48:07.

that, the imports, for example, of rebar, have now plummeted to 90%, so

:48:08.:48:13.

this dumped steel, notably from China but from other countries as

:48:14.:48:17.

well, is already reducing because of the action that we've taken in

:48:18.:48:21.

conjunctionion with other countries, that is what we are doing and we'll

:48:22.:48:24.

continue because we are determined that this country will carry on

:48:25.:48:29.

making steel in our brilliant steelworks with those excellent

:48:30.:48:30.

workers. Ruth Lea? The steel industry is

:48:31.:48:36.

really in difficulty and I'm very surprised to hear Anna talk about

:48:37.:48:39.

tariffs in that particular way because my understanding was that

:48:40.:48:43.

the European Union wanted to bring tariffs in at about 45%, or up to

:48:44.:48:50.

that. The UK were one of those countries that blocked it. I'm

:48:51.:48:56.

afraid that's not true. I read that. I'm the minister responsible and I

:48:57.:49:00.

promise you we've been arguing in favour of higher after the rifles on

:49:01.:49:07.

some steel. Sorry was but I am the minister, I know the vote and I know

:49:08.:49:11.

what we've done, Ruth. I think you are talking about the lesser duty

:49:12.:49:17.

rule. All right. Ruth Lea? Am I allowed to continue? Sorry. Because

:49:18.:49:24.

I actually read that in a business committee report and it was a

:49:25.:49:26.

business committee report that came out at the end of last year so

:49:27.:49:30.

perhaps the report was wrong, but that's where I actually saw it. It

:49:31.:49:34.

was on the Government response to the steel crisis. But putting that

:49:35.:49:41.

aside about the tariffs, there is no doubt that China is selling very,

:49:42.:49:44.

very cheap steel at the moment and it was exacerbated by the strong

:49:45.:49:48.

value of the pound, so the real steel industry had this enormous

:49:49.:49:52.

competitive disadvantage against the Chinese. Out of which of course they

:49:53.:49:58.

do have extra expenses the Chinese don't or other countries indeed many

:49:59.:50:01.

the European Union don't in the sense that energy costs are so much

:50:02.:50:05.

higher here. Can I drag you back to the question which was about

:50:06.:50:09.

nationalisation? Well, this was recognised by the Government some

:50:10.:50:13.

time ago that, they took their time in actually bringing these energy

:50:14.:50:17.

packages in. But the problem is, we are where we are and the steel

:50:18.:50:22.

industry have got all these problems and the question really has to be

:50:23.:50:26.

now, how much of the steel industry is going to be realistically

:50:27.:50:30.

economically viable. Let's see if the Government can get somebody to

:50:31.:50:36.

buy Port Talbot? I think it's true that the steel plants in Scotland

:50:37.:50:39.

have been sold and there is another buyer who will buy Scunthorpe. But

:50:40.:50:43.

the big one of course is Port Talbot. Let's just see if they can

:50:44.:50:49.

actually sell that. They'll have to provide sweeteners, no doubt about

:50:50.:50:53.

that. You are talking about help on energy and pensions and probably

:50:54.:50:57.

help on environmental liabilities. But let's hope they can find

:50:58.:51:03.

something. The person on the front? Why has the British Government left

:51:04.:51:06.

it so long to intervene within the steel market if you have known

:51:07.:51:10.

there's been a crisis for so long, why have you not intervened with

:51:11.:51:13.

Tata Steel before? Why is it that you are only doing it now? Is that a

:51:14.:51:22.

criticism you would make? I think the Government's been on the back

:51:23.:51:25.

foot on this. Let me be clear, I wouldn't support the nationalisation

:51:26.:51:29.

of steel for the same reasons I opposed every bail out of the banks.

:51:30.:51:34.

I don't think putting people like politicians in charge of an industry

:51:35.:51:41.

is going to make it any better. There are three reasons why I think

:51:42.:51:45.

steel production in this country is in the sorry state that it is and

:51:46.:51:48.

three big failures on the part of the Government. Port Talbot makes

:51:49.:51:51.

good steel, it's a world class product. But there are three things

:51:52.:51:55.

that make it virtually impossible for them to earn an honest living by

:51:56.:52:01.

producing what they produce. It's a very energy intensive industry and

:52:02.:52:03.

being in the European Union means the energy costs of producing steel

:52:04.:52:07.

in Port Talbot make it almost impossible to do so competitively. I

:52:08.:52:11.

think we need to leave the European Union and reduce the cost of energy

:52:12.:52:15.

on our industry. That would have an impact.

:52:16.:52:20.

APPLAUSE Secondly, China has imposed I think

:52:21.:52:24.

I am right in saying a 46% tariff on steel. Now, when the Chinese

:52:25.:52:28.

President visited this country, George Osborne was very, very keen

:52:29.:52:32.

to get them to sign up to a nuclear deal which incidentally adds to the

:52:33.:52:36.

cost of our energy. I wonder if he used what clout we might have to

:52:37.:52:40.

negotiate and force China to be reasonable. I think perhaps because

:52:41.:52:46.

we are so fixated with trying to get Chinese investment in the nuclear

:52:47.:52:49.

sector, we are not using the leverage we have. The ?2 billion

:52:50.:52:54.

pension liability hasn't been discussed for Port Talbot, the price

:52:55.:53:00.

we pay of having... A bit more than 2? The pension deficit, the unfunded

:53:01.:53:06.

liability is ?2 billion I think I am right in saying. If you look at what

:53:07.:53:11.

successive Governments under first of all Gordon Brown and now George

:53:12.:53:17.

Osborne have done, they have introduced rates to virtually zero.

:53:18.:53:20.

We discover pension funds haven't been able to keep up with their

:53:21.:53:24.

future liabilities. We are starting to see the in Port Talbot a huge

:53:25.:53:27.

pension liability and this is the price we pay of having a Chancellor

:53:28.:53:33.

who believes that low interest rates alone can have an impact, it's the

:53:34.:53:39.

price we pay for Os-Brown economics. You, there? As regards the pensions,

:53:40.:53:44.

that was because the legislation was changed about what pension companies

:53:45.:53:49.

could own. Most Canadian teachers pensions own high speed railway, the

:53:50.:53:53.

Canadian teachers pension own huge assets in the UK. Sorry, let's stick

:53:54.:53:59.

to steel and Port Talbot? The point made about the energy cost if we

:54:00.:54:03.

pull out of the EU, then the energy cost would go down. We can't produce

:54:04.:54:07.

enough energy for what we news now, we buy most of it from Europe, via a

:54:08.:54:16.

big pipe. You, in the blue shirt? About slamming the stable door after

:54:17.:54:19.

the horse has bolted but what about the rest of the UK manufacturer. We

:54:20.:54:23.

have a major stills shortage so how are we encouraging people to study

:54:24.:54:28.

science, technology, engineering and mathses? -- maths. Caroline Jones

:54:29.:54:34.

who asked the question. What do you think? I agree with Ruth Lea about

:54:35.:54:44.

the EU. I've heard there is a 9% tariff on the steel that's imported

:54:45.:54:49.

from China. America imposes a tariff of 244%.

:54:50.:54:55.

The point is whether or not you get the right effect and the effect is

:54:56.:54:58.

that we have seen, for example, on rebar, we have seen a reduction...

:54:59.:55:07.

You will have to explain that? Reinforced bar, you can see it in

:55:08.:55:11.

concrete and it's made in Cardiff. The point is, when we put the

:55:12.:55:17.

tariffs on, we saw a reduction of 99% of steel. On energy prices we

:55:18.:55:21.

are paying out tens of millions in compensation back. So from 2017,

:55:22.:55:27.

we'll exempt all our energy intensive industries from two of the

:55:28.:55:31.

three green taxes that have undoubtedly taken the action. The

:55:32.:55:36.

Government are considering nationalising steel. It's nonsense.

:55:37.:55:42.

Absolute nonsense. It's a very different thing with the banks. I

:55:43.:55:47.

mean, the banks, you know, the banks is part of the ecosystem of

:55:48.:55:53.

exploitation and it's based on debt, it's like the Government's

:55:54.:56:00.

controlled citizens through international money. The banks were

:56:01.:56:04.

too big to fail. The steelworkers for all this rhetoric about how

:56:05.:56:09.

normal and fine they are, all that patronising stuff, they don't give a

:56:10.:56:16.

toss. It's not draw actually. It is actually, do something about it.

:56:17.:56:23.

So you are saying that I think... I think it's a big test for Labour in

:56:24.:56:27.

terms of their credentials. They have to show how serious they are.

:56:28.:56:33.

Basically it's like, if the Government nationalised the steel,

:56:34.:56:39.

it's basically the beginning of the end of the neo-liberal project, it

:56:40.:56:42.

can't be allowed to happen under this Government. It's a big test for

:56:43.:56:48.

Labour and Corbyn. Will they have the gumption to do something like

:56:49.:56:52.

that. We don't want old-fashioned nationalisation. Surely the most

:56:53.:56:57.

important thing is to stabilise the company now, get enough time to be

:56:58.:57:03.

able to get a proper package in and I say one thing to Anna, I was

:57:04.:57:08.

delighted what you said about Trade Unions, I just wish you would now

:57:09.:57:12.

withdraw the Trade Union bill which is attacking Trade Unions. You

:57:13.:57:22.

always have to make a tribal point. Tribalism in Westminster politics

:57:23.:57:26.

and between your party and his is something we are quite used to on

:57:27.:57:31.

this programme. It does however sadly bring us to

:57:32.:57:33.

tend of this programme because our time's up. We have to stop now. We

:57:34.:57:42.

are going to be in Doncaster next week With David Davis, the

:57:43.:57:44.

Conservative backbencher among those on the panel. The week after that,

:57:45.:57:50.

we are in Exeter. So Doncaster and Exeter. If you want to join the

:57:51.:57:54.

audience, you can apply at the website address there or call the

:57:55.:57:58.

number on the screen. If you have been listening or are

:57:59.:58:05.

listening on Five Live, the debate goes on on Question Time extra time.

:58:06.:58:09.

Thanks to the panel, to all the audience members. Until next

:58:10.:58:12.

Thursday, good night.

:58:13.:58:14.

David Dimbleby presents Question Time from Ilford, East London. On the panel: Conservative business minister Anna Soubry MP, Labour's shadow leader of the House of Commons Chris Bryant MP, UKIP's Douglas Carswell MP, economist Ruth Lea and novelist Irvine Welsh.


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